The one species Congress' new animal caucus is truly neglecting, and 5 ways it can help.

As the health care debate continues to rage, conflict ramps up in Syria, and tensions escalate in North Korea, a new congressional caucus is finally taking a bold, bipartisan stand on an issue of tremendous urgency.

USA Today reported that members of both parties have decided to cast politics aside and come together to support the heretofore controversial cause of being nicer to puppies, kittens, and ponies.  

Awwwwwwww. Photo via iStock.


"Members of Congress are realizing that protecting animals is not just the right thing to do, it's also developing to become potent politically," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) told the paper.

Among the bipartisan bills being considered by the newly formed Congressional Animal Protection Caucus: a bill that bans most private possession of big cats (lions, tigers, etc.), one that bans the sale of dogs and cats for human consumption, and one that bans the testing of cosmetics on rabbits, mice, and other animals.  

These are all good ideas, and people certainly love animals, making the issues likely political winners.

Still, there's one animal that didn't make the group's list — a species that Congress can't seem to agree needs protecting:

Human beings.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images.

There are over 320 million human beings in the United States and over 7 billion in the world. Many live in unimaginable conditions, struggling to find food, maintain shelter, and survive in hostile environments. For a caucus ostensibly devoted to animal welfare, leaving this species off its list seems an incredible oversight.

Here are a few ways the caucus could add the large primate to its agenda.

1. A bill that would make it easier for doctors to treat human beings when they're sick.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Over 28 million human beings in the United States don't have health insurance, without which many of the omnivorous great apes fall ill and die. What's more, Congress recently considered legislation that would have taken it away from 24 million more of them.

Perhaps the caucus can look into this.

2. A bill to help feed human beings who have trouble feeding themselves.

Photo by Gregg Newton/Getty Images.

Last year, members of Congress proposed slashing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps), which provides nutrition to members of the bipedal hominid species who might otherwise go hungry.

If the bipartisan group is truly invested in easing the suffering of creatures large and small, expanding, rather than contracting, the species' access to sources of food is a great place to start.

3. A bill that would allow human females to access reproductive medical care.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

On April 13, 2017, President Trump signed a bill allowing states to deny funds to organizations that treat diseases specific to human beings with uteri and cervixes and help them decide whether and when to reproduce.

The caucus might want to consider making it easier for these anthropoid females to not get cancer and make these decisions for themselves, which could ultimately boost their survival rate.

4. A bill that prevents law enforcement officials from abusing human beings.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images.

In the last several years, dozens of videos depicting the graphic abuse of human beings by police officers have gone viral. In response, the Justice Department and local police departments launched a series of internal reviews — which Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering suspending, claiming they "reduce morale."

If the caucus is indeed considering a national animal cruelty bill, they should at least add humans to the list of species whose abuse will be penalized, no matter the status or uniform of the person doing the abusing.  

5. A bill that would let humans move from a country where they're being killed in large numbers by other humans to one where they're safe.

Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images.

Six years ago, the Syrian government began exterminating members of the species with bombs and poison gas, sending millions stampeding in the direction of the border. Yet much of the world remains surprisingly unconcerned about the hordes of human beings fleeing certain death. In fact, President Trump recently signed an executive order preventing them from settling in the United States.

The caucus should consider passing some sort of legislation that not only overturns this order, but brings more members of the threatened species here to live in safety.

Protecting human beings isn't as much of a slam dunk political winner as, say, laws that require feeding horses aged ribeye and giving every puppy a flower crown.

But hey, as long as Congress is saving animals, might as well give it a shot!

Both together! Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Stagecoach.

'Cause unlike dogs, cats, hyenas, cockatiels, and white Bengal tigers, human beings vote.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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